A group of community members, led by Gonzales ISD educator Jami Owens, met on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of taking over efforts to run Project Graduation, an annual year-end event for graduating seniors at Gonzales High School. Originally, the Gonzales Pilot Club were in charge of the event. But this past year, the Pilots were unable to run the program due to a number of factors including simply not having enough volunteers for all the heavy lifting, both literally and figuratively.
For 18 years, excluding this past one, Project Graduation was a way to keep teenagers off the roads and under the lockdown of a safe environment. Graduates and their guests — mostly underclassmen — would gather at Disciples Conference Center for a night of games, swimming and even chances to win cash prizes.
“By having Project Graduation, we offer [graduates] an opportunity to be someplace safe drug-free, alcohol-free, so that hopefully it’s a good memory,” Owens said.
At the organizational meeting, Owens explained that there are different ways people can volunteer.
“Whenever I said we need help for Project Graduation, it’s from the planning, the fundraising, the soliciting donations to setting up that day, being there throughout the night, there are very few of us that are sentenced to that, the whole night, but everybody is welcomed.” Owens said. “It’s a lot of fun being out there with those kids.”
Other tasks in need of volunteers include clean up and chaperoning various shifts.
“There’s a time for everybody and anybody,” Owens said. “There’s something anybody can do.”
With the amount of people who showed up to the meeting, Owens hopes to split the volunteers into committees. If formed, those committees will be able to meet separately, based on the needs of each group.
“Everybody has a skill that we can use,” Owens added, “we just have to tap into what skill is your best.”
Gonzales Pilot Club President Nancy Logan also attended the meeting to provide guidance as well as resources so that Project Graduation can return in 2020. Logan explained that there’s some money left over specifically for this event, but the Pilots will hold off on donating until they are sure the event will take place.
“The Pilot Club, until they see this group is serious and they see you’re going to get together and going to make it happen, when that happens and we for sure know that’s going to happen, that money will be yours,” Logan said. “It will be a big help.”
For those interested in contributing, whether it’s to join the group or donate, contact Jami Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org. The group is expected to meet again sometime August.